Best Cocktail to Celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month

by   |  09.15.2022

Although we do not need a reason to indulge in the merry pleasures of great food and (even better) drinks with friends and family, we are presented with yet another reason; and it’s a good one, at that. With National Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 – October 15), we have an opportunity to celebrate the culture and history of those whose ancestors reigned from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America. A culture that so many of us have grown to know and love.

My Desert Sun cocktail recipe is the perfect way to top off your festivities with a spirit that embodies the rich culture and history itself. In honor of the month’s holiday, let me introduce you to a spirit that everyone from aficionados, beginner drinkers and all those in between, can appreciate.

The Desert Sun by Jennifer Nguyen, cocktail by the pool

For most of us, admittedly, the first thing that comes to mind is, some variation of a tequila. Tequila is well known and a great staple and the go-to for many of us and it is a spirit that deserves to be discussed in depth, but at another time. Today, we will delve into mezcal and all its glory.

In appreciation of the heritage and history of mezcal, it is pertinent to note that it is one of the oldest spirits in the Americas. The name “mezcal” stems from the Aztecs or more specifically the Nahua who referred to this drink as “mexcalli”, derivative of the words metl [agave] and ixcalli [cooked], essentially combined, meaning cooked agave and the Natives revered this drink as sacred.

For a spirit that has been in existence long before the civilization of the Americas, it has gone through the ages quite underrated. However, in recent years statistics show that mezcal has really stepped into the spotlight and soared in popularity on a global scale. Half of the approximate 3 million liters of exported mezcal went to the United States alone! Perhaps its health benefits play a part in its popularity in the US, you can discover them at Mezcal vs. Tequila: What’s the Difference? ( Some of you may already be acquainted with this spirit and some of may have heard that it is the “smokier cousin” of tequila. In fact, Tequila is a form of mezcal, but the reverse does not necessarily apply.

Albeit a good handful of mezcal can be very smokey and does run the risk of being considered “off-putting” to some of our beginner drinkers. Fear not, I want to encourage our beginners to continue their adventure and journey of discovering the beauty and the delights of Mezcal. Aside from being “smokey”, it boasts a wide array of the flavor profiles that can be staggering in differences depending on the cultivation, how it’s produced, unique to each distillery and its processes. With this simple guide on how to pick the perfect mezcal along with my delightfully refreshing mezcal cocktail recipe, The Desert Sun, it will be sure to please the pickiest palette and guaranteed to be a hit at your next gathering.

When making a choice on a bottle of mezcal, the general rule of thumb is: The more information printed on the bottle label, the better the mezcal. You’ll want to look out for a label that tells you what category it is, the class, where it’s from, and how it is distilled. You’ll also want to make sure the label states that it is either “artisanal” or “ancestral”. For a mezcal to qualify as artisanal or ancestral, the agave must have been crushed by hand or with a tahona [stone wheel]; the crushing method used should also be on the label. Another factor that needs to be considered when choosing the right bottle is the alcohol content, avoid purchasing a mezcal with anything less than 40%. When the alcohol content is below 40%, the range of flavor begins to fall flat and tends to be just smokey with little to no other flavor notes.

I recipe tested many different brands for The Desert Sun before happening upon OJO DE TIGRE Joven Mezcal. It is the perfect example of everything you want in a good mezcal. OJO DE TIGRE Joven Mezcal embodies the perfect range of some of the most defined and complex notes found in a mezcal; No doubt, the very notes that won the brand a Gold Medal in the 2022 San Francisco World Spirits competition and can be found here: OJO DE TIGRE Joven Mezcal | The Tasting Alliance | The Tasting Alliance .

How to make the desert sun cocktail

This cocktail is very quick and easy to make. I personally like to make fresh watermelon juice by blending some cubed watermelon, then straining it through a fine-mesh sieve. If you prefer a more “smoothie” like texture, you can skip the straining. Feel free to grab some watermelon juice at your local grocers if you want to skip the hassle, I find that the cold press watermelon juice serves as a great substitute. Fresh lime and lemon juice also works best to keep the integrity of the flavors in a cocktail.

The rim and garnish for this cocktail is also simple but it absolutely ties the entire cocktail together. Rim a rocks glass with some Chamoy sauce and then Tajin. For the garnish, use a melon baller to create a 1-inch watermelon sphere (the “sun” in the recipe), roll in Tajin and set aside.

Balls of watermelon, easy carving

In a cocktail shaker, add your ice, OJO DE TIGRE Joven Mezcal, some yellow chartreuse, the agave syrup, the watermelon, lime, and lemon juice. Shake and strain into your pre-rimmed glass, top off with ice cubes and your watermelon “sun” garnish with a cocktail garnish pick.

Simple but impactfully flavorful. Serve this up at your next gathering, or just because- it’s a great anytime drink!

The Desert Sun by Jennifer Nguyen, on cutting board with watermelon

The Desert Sun

Author: Jennifer Nguyen

Prep Time: 10 minutes Total Time: 10 minutes

Servings: 1


1.5 ounces – OJO DE TIGRE Joven Mezcal (mezcal)

1.25 ounces – watermelon juice

0.5 ounces – Chartreuse Yellow

.25 ounces – Agave

.25 ounces – lime juice

.25 ounces – lemon juice

Chamoy sauce and Tajin to rim


1. To make the watermelon juice, blend 2-3 cups of cubed watermelon in a blender. Strain through fine mesh sieve. Store in pitcher, refrigerate for up to 5 days.

2. Rim a rocks glass with Chamoy and then Tajin, set aside. Use a melon baller to make a 1-inch watermelon sphere and then roll the watermelon sphere in Tajin to coat, use a cocktail pick to skewer and set aside for garnish.

3. In a cocktail shaker or a glass jar, add mezcal, Chartreuse Yellow, watermelon juice, Agave, lime juice and lemon juice. Fill with ice and shake until combined.

4. Strain into your prepared glass. Top with your “sun” garnish and enjoy!